Cape Town - Moments before the appearance of an alleged 28s gang kingpin in a packed Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court room on Friday morning, alarm bells and cries of “bomb” sent people scrambling for the exit.
The court building was evacuated while police tactical response officers stormed in. The K9 unit was also dispatched.
On Thursday, national police spokesman Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale announced the arrest of the alleged gang boss and five other people in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
The three police officers and three civilians are allegedly members of a racket which issues fraudulent firearm licences.
The three policemen were arrested when the Pretoria offices of the police Central Firearm Registry were raided. Incriminating documents and electronic equipment were seized.
Firearms and ammunition were seized following the arrest of the three civilians in Cape Town.
Hundreds of people milled outside the court on Friday morning. They included the alleged gangster’s supporters and those from the community who were lobbying for him to be denied bail.
A knife fight broke out between two men in the crowd. Within moments, a dozen men were involved in the scuffle but it ended as suddenly as it had started. It was not clear whether there were injuries or arrests.
Abie Isaacs, chairman of the Mitchells Plain Community Police Forum, had mobilised a group of residents to oppose the alleged gang kingpin getting bail.
The suspect was appearing, along with two others, on charges related to fraudulent issuing of gun licences.
Isaacs described the bomb threat today as a “delaying tactic” used by the 28s gang.
Another source close to the case, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said the suspect appearing today was a relative of Colin Stanfield, the late leader of a gang called The Firm.
At a press conference at Mitchells Plain police station, cluster head Major General Jeremy Veary said the bomb threat and attention on this case was to be expected. He drew parallels with Stanfield’s earlier court appearances.
He said the alleged gang boss would have to appear today at some time because suspects must legally be brought before a court for a first appearance with in 48 hours. The suspect did not have a criminal record, he said.
Veary said the syndicate was corruptly issuing licences for “top-of-the range” hand guns and assault rifles. Gangsters used this syndicate to obtain guns illegally.
Further charges would laid against the alleged gang boss at a later stage.